To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, one of the American Founding Fathers, “If restricting access to Netflix content based upon the user’s geographical location is unjust, the user is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do ...
Number of servers: No. of servers: A few hundred (not known)
Price from: $2.05
#56 out of 157 VPN providersRead our Full Opinion
Free (limited) and trial versions
14-day money-back guarantee
Very easy to use
Malware blocking, tracking protection (browser apps)
DNS leak protection
What others say about ZenMate:
“ ZenMate's free Chrome, Firefox and Opera extensions provide a simple way to enable or disable the service, and choose new locations, from within the browser interface. “
“ Unclear logging policies and a jurisdiction placing it right in the crosshairs of a multi-nation surveillance alliance make me antsy. “
What is ZenMate VPN
Simon Specka and Markus Hänel dreamed big back in 2013 and founded ZenGuard GmbH in Berlin, Germany. These two German gentlemen wanted to provide a simplified security, privacy, and unrestricted access solution for internet users. It’s no wonder why the main characteristic of ZenMate VPN became its ease of use.
By now, over 45 million users have downloaded and used this relatively new VPN app. The exact number of VPN servers is not known, but ZenMate claims to have hundreds of servers in 30 countries worldwide.
Germany is strict about privacy. However, it’s worth mentioning that it also has powerful data retention laws and is a member of the infamous Fourteen Eyes alliance. Still, Germany is one of the main advocates of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
There are fundamentally three ZenMate versions: a limited Free version, a Premium version, and an Ultimate version. The service is constantly improving – for example, a few months back ZenMate finally introduced the OpenVPN tunneling protocol.
ZenMate may not be the most sophisticated, anonymous, and versatile VPN on the market. Nevertheless, novice users will find it difficult to find anything this easy to use. Unblocking geo-restricted web content, online gaming, and streaming videos shouldn’t be a problem. However, speed could present some issues depending on your baseline speed and distance from the chosen server. The good news is that you can actually try the premium version for 7 days for free.
In October 2018, Kape Technologies Plc acquired ZenGuard GmbH for $5.55 million. This Israeli company now owns two major players in the VPN industry (it bought CyberGhost in 2017).
Where ZenMate is based and why it is important
If you want to know what you can expect from your VPN provider in terms of data logging, retention, and sharing, it’s wise to know more about its location. Even though this is not an exact science — rather, it’s a grey area — the VPN location always gives you an idea about what to expect.
ZenMate Location: Berlin, Germany
Looking at Europe and data privacy, Germany is undoubtedly one of the more controversial countries. There are strict privacy laws protecting its citizens and Germany is also a flag-bearer for the GDPR. Seems like they do care about your right to privacy.
However, at the same time, the German government takes it upon itself to impose restrictions on ISPs and forcing them to limit access to harmful material (to protect minors) or to suppress hate speech and extremism – concepts that can and have been manipulated in concerning ways. While most internet users would probably agree with such limitations, the so-called NetzDG law, effective since 2018, did get its fair share of criticism.
This law targets social media sites in connection with hate speech, fake news, and illegal material. If such cases are reported or found, the sites have 24 hours to remove the material in question. Failing to do so could be quite costly. Fines could reach up to a whopping €50 million.
Copyright infringement is also something you may want to avoid in Germany. While accessing torrent sites is not banned per se, being caught could lead to a €1,000 fine. This applies if it can be proven that you’ve been leeching or seeding copyrighted materials.
There may be other concerns as well. Germany is a member of the notorious Fourteen Eyes international surveillance alliance. This simply means that this country can snoop on its citizens for “national security” reasons and share the data with other member-states.
What does a ZenMate location say?
Fourteen Eyes alliance member
Strict copyright laws
Available plans and pricing
Fundamentally, there are three ZenMate VPN versions: Free, Premium, and Ultimate. The Free version is a limited one, and it’s not too obvious how to download and use it. At least, the official ZenMate website doesn’t provide enough information about the free version.
As a matter of fact, you can only use the limited ZenMate Free VPN on Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. In other words, this is a proxy rather than a VPN. This Free version is limited to 4 locations and 2 MB/s speed. But it provides you with the same no logs policy as the paid options.
The primary difference between the Premium and Ultimate ZenMate VPNs (apart from the pricing) is that the paid plans are the only ones coming with OpenVPN support and a Streaming Guarantee.
Since the Premium version uses L2TP/IPsec by default, it could be a bit heavy on your processor due to the double data encapsulation. This protocol is also supposed to be slower and less secure than the industry standard OpenVPN.
These are the ZenMate Premium VPN pricing plans:
The Ultimate VPN plans have the same durations, but the prices are somewhat higher:
- 1 Month: $12.99
- 6 Months: $9.99 per month
- T1 Year: $7.99 per month (Save 38%)
These are quite expensive for what you get. It’s worth comparing them with the offers of market leaders.
At the time of writing, there’s also an exclusive special offer for the Ultimate plans. These prices are far better. If you’re satisfied with the features and level of anonymity ZenMate provides, you may be tempted by these monthly costs:
- 1 Month: $11.99
- 1 Year: $3.99 per month (Save 67%)
- 2 Years: $2.05 per month (Save 83%)
This makes ZenMate one of the cheapest on the market right now.
Platforms ZenMate supports
This VPN has a good variety of custom clients to support the main platforms. The desktop applications for Windows, Mac OS X, and the mobile apps for Android and iOS devices are more or less identical.
These are very simple to use. With a click on the Shield button, you can connect to the default location in a matter of seconds. The browser extensions, however, offer slightly different settings and a different interface.
When using the Chrome, Firefox, or Opera ZenMate app, you can set up Malware Blocking and Tracking Protection. You can also set Smart Locations.
All in all, ZenMate ease of use dream is fulfilled through its VPN apps. These clients indeed simplify internet security. Even completely novice users can spoof their location, access geo-blocked content, play online games, and stream videos with some security and privacy.
ZenMate and entertainment
If your baseline speed is relatively fast, you may be able to use ZenMate to the fullest. What you mostly need for a decent entertainment experience are speed and low latency. Generally speaking, it’s possible to use ZenMate VPN to stream videos, torrent, and game. However, you may run into issues in restricted or censorship-heavy countries, like China, Iran, and Saudi Arabia.
Statistics show that 30% of VPN users stream Netflix. So when these people choose a VPN service, their primary concern is whether they can bypass Netflix’ detection. Since this major media streaming service began its war on VPNs, lots of providers have lost access.
With ZenMate, it’s still possible to stream Netflix US. While you may be able to enjoy HD quality video streaming even with the Premium version, let us remind you that only the ZenMate Ultimate VPN app has OpenVPN support. Therefore, if you’re experiencing lag or buffering issues with your trial or Premium account, you can always upgrade to Ultimate for greater speeds and a Streaming Guarantee.
Unfortunately, the other Netflix regions (e.g., Japan, Australia, France, and the UK) don’t seem to work with the Premium version. But, you may get lucky with Ultimate.
If you are a Comedy Central, NBC, or BBC iPlayer fan, you’re in luck – ZenMate can deliver all of these to your screen.
Torrenting and P2P
Downloading and uploading large files may take a while with the Premium VPN, but could be more convenient with the Ultimate version. However, just because it’s possible to seed and leech torrent files, it doesn’t mean it’s entirely safe with this VPN.
Depending on your speed and distance from the chosen server, you may enjoy some good online gaming with ZenMate. After all, what you need is a good geo-unblocker, some privacy, and enough speed to play without a glitch. As a matter of fact, ZenMate promotes itself as “the best VPN for gamers” on its website. If you have any doubts, you can always go for the 7-day free Premium trial. But remember that the Ultimate VPN app is supposed to be faster and more secure, too.
China? Not worth a try.
When you are in a restricted and censored country like China, you need to be extra careful with your choices.
ZenMate doesn’t hide the truth about its issues in restricted countries. Its website makes it clear that there could be problems with access and functioning. Therefore, ZenMate VPN is not a recommended choice in China, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, to mention just a few possibly problematic regions.
ZenGuard GmbH is founded.
ZenMate Firefox, Android, and iOS VPN apps launch.
Series A funding scores $3.2 million.
ZenMate reaches 5 million users worldwide.
ZenMate VPN app downloads reach 25 million.
The Premium version is introduced.
Series B funding raises more cash (amount is not disclosed).
ZenMate launches OpenVPN support and Streaming Guarantee for all Ultimate plans and platforms.
Downloads break the 45 million barrier.
100% share acquisition by Kape Technologies Plc, owner of CyberGhost VPN.
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